Poet’s note: I’m still recuperating from the migraine and what’s more fun, I’m hobbled over like a fallen garden gnome from some kind of sciatica (or pinched nerve?), which I’ve never had before. Nevertheless, I just got new sneakers so I can hit the gym and hopefully work out whatever’s bugging me. That said, the poem below is a work-in-progress and so far, not looking pretty.

My Neighbor, the Lawn Ornament Devotee

My neighbor stacks flamingo skeletons
In my dooryard, which is his backyard,
Behind his house, by a tool shed.
These bones are remains of two kinds;
Once fragrant hydrangea & heliotrope,
Hung to attract hummingbirds and butterflies—
Now long dead, their white, plastic hooks
Huddle, as if bowed head to head.

My neighbor’s wife used to peer
Out the back screen door
As Ed exchanged a plastic deer
For a garden gnome, or
A family of clay squirrels.
An iridescent “crystal” sphere
Rested on its pedestal;
Everything else rotated,
According to her cycle.

Mary & Joseph glowed for months
In florescent robes, bent over
A snow-covered baby Jesus,
Their faces not meant to be seen
Up close, like in impressionist paintings.
Removed from their hay manger
On the front lawn, they lay sideways,
Unplugged and dim against spring grass,
Abandoned by a busy re-arranger.

Ed totes the garden gnome
Under a muscled arm; he mows the lawn
In summer, weeds the flower beds
And has done it all by dawn,
Or by the time I have motivated
On a Sunday morning.

But now the feeders are all empties,
Which I don’t mind noticing
Because she put sugar water
Out for hummingbirds,
Who expire from diabetes
By the time they’ve flown to Costa Rica.

My fat cat catapults off a two-by-four
Into my neighbor’s garden
And hunts for frogs. A decapitated replica
Of a Greek Adonis in miniature
Stands barely erect by the gate.

I had not seen my neighbor’s wife,
Who I knew was ill for a long time.
Ed seemed fully devoted,
Probably faithful his whole life,
A Pisces like me so I can relate
To feeling compelled to do
Whatever one can do to please one’s mate
Even if all she asked each day:
For him to “move that over there,”
Hold up an ornament,
Then vacillate.